If you ever wanted to see behind the curtain and find out how songs come to life, the best thing to do is to come to Nashville and attend some ‘writers nights’ around town at venues like The Bluebird Café or The Listening Room. But if you cannot do that, the second best thing to do would be to go out and pick up both copies of Original Songwriter Demos, which hopefully are the just the first pair in an ongoing series. Thanks to the release of these albums, I recently was able to speak with a few songwriters about their songs on the album.
Songwriter Alissa Moreno, an artist who has worked on an artist career in Los Angeles for years started writing with some co-writers in Nashville when she wrote a little song called “Every Day” with Jeffrey Steele. When asked about the song and how it came about Alissa said “Jeffrey heard me play a little piano melody that I played all the time and mentioned being inspired by something Sarah Buxton said called “Every day you save my life” and it fit the melody.”
The song, like many great songs do, took a long time to get to the right artist but eventually found Rascal Flatts. Other great songs that took a long time to get to the artist that made them a hit include “Bless The Broke Road,” another Rascal Flatts hit and “Moments,” a Sam and Annie Tate co-write with Dave Berg that took ‘seven years to get recorded,’ because for some reason A&R people didn’t think the song suited any of their artists, until an unsigned Emerson Drive cut the song [Note: “Moments” is not on this set of albums but may be on the next volume].
Most of the time a songwriter demo is basically the same as the way that you hear the final version but in the case of “I Hope You Dance,” the Tia Sillers and Mark D. Sanders song made famous by Lee Ann Womack, the production of Mark Wright made the song better. “We had all of the elements,” says Mark D Sanders. “But it took Mark Wright to put it all together.”
Sam and Annie Tate are a husband and wife team that co-wrote the Rodney Atkins hit “If You’re Going Through Hell (Keep On Going)” with Dave Berg. Dave Berg sings the vocal on the demo and while it’s similar to the version that Rodney Atkins and his co-producer Ted Hewitt came up with, Annie says “They made it a little peppier.”
Sam even went on to say that while he thought the song was great, he didn’t know if it’d get recorded because it didn’t ‘kill’ him but “When I heard the final record from Rodney, I thought ‘oh my goodness.’ As a 35 year veteran in the business, he knew he had something special.
“The neat thing about it is Tom (Douglas)’s version is completely different than Miranda’s,” says Allen Shamblin about the song “The House That Built Me.” “It reflects how she took it and made it her own, and it reflects the whole process about how it can start as one thing and be made in to another, It’s a beautiful thing.”
And that’s the beauty of the release of The Original Songwriter Demos. To hear the 20 songs over two albums the way the artists originally made them. Like three of the songs discussed here, they ended up being slightly or completely different than the way the songwriters originally intended them to be and other times, like in the case of the song “Every Day” or other great songs like “The Dance,” the songs template was exactly as how the producers and singers recorded the songs. No matter how they started out to be able to see behind the “wizard’s curtain” is certainly something many fans will enjoy seeing and hearing.